Sunday, February 24, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

Walking to the neighborhood grocery in the rain, it occurred to me that I should paint a dot of nail polish on my black umbrella handle so I would never take the wrong one from the waste basket most stores set near their doors.

I parked it and collected my lemons and whipping cream for the mousse I wanted to make, paid and stopped to reclaim my umbrella from the basket.

It was gone.

I couldn't believe it. Somebody stole my umbrella. That is about as lowdown and dirty as it gets. Who would do such a thing?

There was a woman scurrying away with a small black umbrella which looked familiar, but how could I prove it was mine? All black umbrellas look alike.

I peered into the basket again. There were two others, a red one and a dark blue with ruffles. Mine had definitely gone to a new home.

It's the Chinese Year of the Rat. Maybe that explains it.

I got drenched to the skin as I slogged home, where I gave a tour de force performance of every expletive I know for Flip, who was hiding out in his earphones.

I felt angry. Violated. I was shocked that someone would do that.

Umbrellas are not costly. If she had asked me, I might have given it to her. But in stealing it during a rainstorm, she was clearly stating that she was more important than I, that she was more entitled to be dry even though I had the foresight to take my umbrella with me and she didn't.

It was the presumption of superiority that got me so fired up.

When we convince ourselves that we are better than someone else, made of finer cloth, more favored by God, we are setting ourselves back on our journey toward perfection because it is not about being The Best. It is about accepting that we are no more and no less important than all other beings.

We seem to live increasingly in a "Me-First" world in which people are out for themselves and believe that no one else matters. Gentleness is perceived as weakness and charity begins and ends at home.

We are here to support each other with kindness and even love, if possible, because we really are all in the soup together. But every time we feel more deserving than someone else, we are heading down a slippery slope and may soon find ourselves stealing umbrellas.

Umbrella stolen
You thought I wouldn't notice?
You are dead to me.

Buddhism aside
Lotus blossom up your ass
I feel better now.


thailandchani said...

It does take a certain arrogance to believe we have more right to something than someone else, especially when thievery becomes an option.


furiousBall said...

The burned arrows sing.
Young returning sheep retire.
A smooth wind clashes.

RED MOJO said...

The thief strikes again
sending the angry victim
home to write haiku.

meno said...

Karma dictates pain,
To her in the near future.
Oh scurrilous thief.

Franki said...

Shakyamuni breathes
May the thief drown in sad tears
Dumb motherfucker.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm not so paranoid that I think the thief chose my umbrella because she felt superior to me, specifically. But that's just the problem - she apparently divides the world into "me" and "others."

It was upsetting on more levels than I realized at first.


What happens to the old sheep?




Oh, yeah. I love it when you talk dirty.


That is exactly what I was trying to say, but I was less clever.

I bow to you.

the walking man said...

So the battle continues in its own form, from the second day to to this. Look at how people drive, how they use cellphones, how they exploit them not aware enough to understand what is happening...I still say if you live in this culture you have died in battle and deserve a boat afire for the Valkyrie to come take you to Valhalla.



Christy said...

Oh no! I'm sorry this happened to you. I can vouch for myself. I did not leave Delaware to go steal your umbrella. =o/ That doesn't help though. Cheers to a sunnier day!

Paige Jennifer said...

I bought my umbrella for $9.99 at TJ Maxx and I never ever release my grip on it when in public. Drippy water spots that are surely a hazard? Whatevs. I'm so never risking it being stolen.

Nick said...

You should have said to the other woman "Excuse me, can I walk under your umbrella for a few minutes, someone's stolen mine and it's pelting down." Then see if she looked guilty or innocent. Anyway from now on my definition of going astray will start with umbrella-thieving!

Ian Lidster said...

Lotus blossom up her ass might feel soothing, so maybe something more barbed. Very, very un-Buddhist of me, I know.
As for brollies. When I was at university umbrella theft was rampant, and after losing two in exactly the manner you described, I gave up and resigned myself to getting soaked as I trudged between classes.

Anonymous said...

Looking on the side of giving the thief the benefit of the doubt, let's remember that there could be a reasonable explanation. Perhaps there were two black umbrellas in there just moments earlier but someone then took her black umbrella and thus, she then took yours, thinking it was hers. "All black umbrellas look alike."

"Lotus blossom up your ass." If an insertion is actually achieved, do remember that flowers always leave a fragrance in the hand that bestows them. But that line, oh my goodness, that is the most lovely piece of poetry I have heard in a good while.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I never leave mine at the door.

I often shop at Whole Foods (organic food heaven) and they have enormous green and white stripey umbrellas in a barrell by the door for the customers use.

But I can't figure out... if you need the umbrella to get to the car, how do you get it back to the barrell without getting wet?

Before I went to London for the first time, I heard that nearly everyone in London has a black umbrella, so I immediately went out and bought a brilliant red one that is so compact it fits in my purse. It still comes in very handy.

Here's a new Lotus blossom for you my friend, enjoy it in peace and happiness.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


No objections to the boat ride to Valhalla, as long as I'm dead before it happens.


I knew it wasn't you. You're much prettier than she was.


You're smart. Perhaps I have depended on the kindness of strangers too much.


I'm glad I could expand your horizons.

Afterward, I wished that I had asked to see her umbrella but I slunk away, disgusted, in the other direction. So some of my anger was at myself, too.


I haven't always used brollies, as you say up North, but got tired of wearing wet clothes all day.

Maybe a nice lotus blossom on the tip of a curare-dipped arrow...


Maybe a giant bird did carry my client's husband away, Judge -- a clear case of reasonable doubt.


Whole Foods in SF SELLS the bloody things. Figures.

I had the same question, and also, how do they know people will return them?

Is it ok if I don't um, WEAR the lotus blossom but just place it in a bowl?

Craze said...

Have faith that Karma will pay this person a visit.

Open Grove Claudia said...

Ahahahahah. I love the image of lotus blossoms up the ass. That's very funny.

Boy, I can speak to this. I have given and given and given with love and kindness and generosity. And I have the bills for it.

Others have "Me-firsted" their way to wealth and dry walks home at my expense.

It's so easy to cast aside my values and beliefs to push my way to the front of the line.

Then I have to live there - outside my values and beliefs, away from everything I value and love.

I am sorry she used your umbrella - but she might not have even noticed it was yours. To take it personally? or believe that she was thinking about you or anyone else at all? Is to push to the front of the line.

I know, I've done it a million times.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I know.

Maybe my umbrella over her head will attract a lightning bolt. Not that I wish it on her, of course. I'm just sayin'...


I don't take it personally, except in that I am a person who is not her, and who happened to own the umbrella.

I deplore the prevalent mentality that places oneself above all others because inevitably, it ends up with their rights being trampled (and their property appropriated.)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that may be the strongest reaction to a taken umbrella I've ever heard! But it made me laugh (not at your misfortune, just at how you told the story). But I'm not nearly trusting enough to leave my umbrella in that basket. Of course, I also rarely have the foresight to have one with me.

Umbrella has left.
Taken by the selfish thief?
Or maybe raptured...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


There, you see. You thought my reaction was strong, but you, personally, do not leave your umbrella in such a place.

Raptured? :<) !! Yes, that must be it. Comes the Rapture, and all the Good People (You know who you are) levitate up to Heaven with their umbrellas (stolen?) like Mary Poppins.

PeterAtLarge said...

I boast a very upscale Christian Dior umbrella. Black. I got it at a restaurant on the Upper East Side in New York City, where I had been invited for a very upscale lunch on a rainy day. I put my own cheap black umbrella in the stand on the way in. My host and I were the last to leave the restaurant, and the Dior was the only one left in the stand. I presumed that someone had walked off with mine, and that this one was simply meant for me. A gift. Sort of.

seventh sister said...

I always buy a hideously loud colored unbrella. That way it is hard for me to lose and so ugly no one else would want it. IF I buy a black one, I lose it the second time I use it. I don't think they get stolen, a hole just opens up in the fabric of the Universe and my black umbrella just slides through it.

I'm sorry you got soake but I am a little envious that you are getting rain. We are having beautiful weather but if we don't get some rain soon, there will be no wildflowers in the hill country.

meggie said...

To some the rain is a curse,
to others the rain is blessing.

But no matter which,
stolen umbrella is unforgivable.

My family 'steal' most of mine. They never seem to buy one, & take mine, on the pretext it is 'borrowed'. I never see them again!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You are obviously an upscale Christian Dior kind of guy. The umbrella gods knew that. And some poor shmoe visiting from the upper West Side got your cheapie.

Sometimes, things work out as they should.


Send me an umbrella and I'll send you flowers.

That rip in the fabric of the universe is where everything of Flip's goes to die, so your dearly departed umbrellas have plenty of good company.


The next time it rains, go around to all their houses and borrow back an umbrella, which they will never see again.

It's only fair.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Well said.

I think that what goes along with the current “Me-ism” of our materialistic culture are the beliefs that (1) the world owes Me and (2) what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine, also. Thus, it follows: “I need an umbrella. There is an umbrella. I shall take the umbrella.”

Sad. However, I am fairly certain that karma will relieve that umbrella thief of the umbrella at some future moment.

Rick said...

Maybe the lady had bad eye sight and thought that yours was her dark blue one?

I like the painting of Noah's Ark

Anonymous said...

You are so freakin' talented! I love it!

This has happened to me too. At church and at work.

Katrice (in case this Open ID thing doesn't work.)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

St. Nick,

You're absolutely right that this is the prevalent thought pattern. Somewhere along the line, it became all right to cheat others. Unless we find a way to reverse this ghastly trend, we will be collectively beyond redemption.

And no, it's not just about an umbrella if anyone is raising an eyebrow. It doesn't matter what the item is. When it is perceived as acceptable to take advantage of another, we are all in trouble.


Or maybe she was blind and thought my umbrella was her Braille Bible.

Noah's Ark seemed appropriate to the amount of rain we've had lately.

Thank you for your visit. I've bookmarked your blog with all your amazing artwork and plan to belly up there often.


Somebody stole your umbrella at CHURCH? That's wayyyy worse.

What were they thinking?!

Rick said...

Thank you for your kind words on my blog. You are too kind.

I posted this reply to your question...

To Heartinsanfrancisco: Do you mean my own children's books? All the time.

I have a stack of children's stories that I've created and want to go back and redraw for publication, but I think that when it comes to my own artwork I am too much of a perfectionist, and so I don't finish the project.

If you're talking about someone else's children's book?... I've had several people ask, very few follow through.

WNG said...

"Lotus blossom up your ass"

I'll comment again when I stop laughing...

in two or three days

blooming desertpea said...

Egotism is a boomerang - it will return to her eventually :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you for coming back.

I have a couple of such projects on disk somewhere. I'm going to hunt down one in particular and touch it up, at which point I may ask if you would be interested.

The lack of follow-through may be because your artwork is so great that people feel intimidated.


Don't forget to stop and smell the flowers. :)

Desert Pea,

As you sow, you reap.

Now if only my umbrella would return to me.

Mariposa said...

I would feel the same way! She/ He may blown away to a far place with nothing but just that umbrella! Better to the place where to get there with an umbrella is a taboo!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Where are umbrellas taboo?

I would like to live in a place where theft is taboo.

Judith said...

Karma will triumph in the shape of another rainstorm, with the offender battling the elements and send them into a spin towards a nasty spill with an suv

Josie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josie said...

Gosh, Blogger ate my comment... what I said was... I know how you feel. Someone stole my eyeglasses from my desk drawer at work. What gives people a sense of entitlement like that?

Their karma will get them, make no mistake.

Mariposa said...

Hearts, just my crazy thought on how to punish the person who stole your umbrella the crazy way...

I've had my share too...and I know it's annoying and the last time it happened to me, it really got the better of me...can you imagine me leaving a temple barefoot because my shoes weren't there anymore? So I wanted to light it up by some crazy thoughts... ;)

Tanya Brown said...

Ow! Warn a person before you make her laugh hard, eh? I was mentally nodding my head in agreement about the uncivilized rudeness of the umbrella thief, then I got to the haiku and the phrase "Lotus blossom up your ass" and I just lost it.

MsLittlePea said...

Love the poem.

I totally agree with you. It's a complete lack of respect and consideration for others. It's that sense of entitlement that just rakes my nerves. I bet whoever took it is the same kind of person who didn't tell the truth in the deli the other day when the employee asked who was next. I was but I didn't say anything because it's not worth it. Maybe I should start some haiku action myself. But I prefer the filthy explicatives.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


When did you move to San Francisco without telling me?

You have such a way with the lurid and macabre. I love it!


Unbelievable. Were your glasses prescription or the generic reading-type?

You would think that ones desk drawer would be off-limits. That is most horribly nasty. Have you seen your glasses on any of your workmates?

I would send out an all-points bulletin asking that they be returned when you are at lunch or on your coffee break.


This gets worse and worse. Shoes stolen by a temple door is just begging for bad karma.

I hope they are not disappointed.

Flip's Hawaiian flip-flops were stolen at the beach along with a very nice beach towel and backpack. Luckily, he had his surfboard with him.


Sorry for the inconvenience. I have a horrid inner child who pops out when we least expect her.

Sweet Pea,

We must shop in the same stores. I was in line at an Asian grocery the other day when a huge, ugly man just baldfaced stood in front of me. I wanted to say something but simply couldn't think of what to say.

Anonymous said...

I love your haiku!

The village is no more it seems and every man for himself is too often one's MO. Shame.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


If only we could bring back the village, and a spirit of cooperation.

Lex said...

Stealing = Arrogance

Interesting. I had never thought if it that way, but I must agree.

What is customer service like at your local grocery? Is it possible that the thief could have considered the store on par with the Ritz Carlton and assumed that perhaps the store had placed them their for the customer's use?

I'm trying. Work with me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Dear Lex,

Um, no.

It was a crime of opportunity.

But thanks...

Anonymous said...

Buddhism aside
Lotus blossom up your ass
I feel better now.

Ah, so. Much tamer
than the venom hurled
at the One swooping in
to take the parking space
I have been waiting for,
blinker clearly screaming
to your stupid ass:
back the fuck off.

I relate.

Jocelyn said...

Every damn time I go to leave a comment somewhere, I see Furiousball's, and then I laugh so much that I almost can't leave a comment.

Ah, know, I so often drift through the world, thinking I understand what's going on, and then I realize a day later how wrong I was. This is to say: I can actually see myself exiting that store and thinking, "Aren't they so nice to have these complimentary umbrellas here? And people say the world is a bad place!" Then I'd trip off with your umbrella, so happy that people are unexpectedly thoughtful.

Then you'd swear up a storm after resisting the urge to tackle me.

nmj said...

hey san fran,i have given up on umbrellas here - i always lose them, or they get broken by the gales!

Anonymous said...

You are crazy funny! I know having something stolen from you feels like such a violation. Sorry you experienced that.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That's a theft, too, when somebody takes the fruit of your labors.

My little haiku were quite bland compared to the version Flip got, too.


What makes you so sure I would resist tackling you?

Oh, right. I didn't bring the culprit to the pavement.

If you lived here, you would quickly realize that NOTHING is free.


I would prefer to have one turn inside out in my hands than to watch it walk away in perfect health.

I haven't always used them. I just got tired of getting drenched, finally.

Hi Kwesi!

I've had far more valuable things stolen by people I trusted, but it's always a shock.

Today the sun is shining and it doesn't seem so bad.

Maria said...

Karma often slaps
On rainy days of sad gloom
Her day will come soon

Michael C said...

I'm glad you feel better and through all the great points you made, I could not help but laugh at your last few words.

heartinsanfrancisco said...



But could you be more specific about the "soon" part?


Yes, I'm a great lover of flowers.

The CEO said...

I am not the literate author, but as we get more and more emotionally isolated from each other, the more bad shit happens.

Sienna said...

**Sweet lotus

my love for thee was true

I thought you really knew..

Now you've gone..

My heart doth pine

You are where..

The sun will never shine...**

Oh Hearts I cracked up about the lotus, I read this and went mutter mutter, theiving mongrels, and got to the lotus and that was it.


I am patiently waiting to get cross and mad enough with somebody to use this.

It is a classic.

(Sorry 'bout your umbrella mate).

jameil1922 said...

i wouldn't have left my umbrella. i know that's a different kind of arrogance b/c someone else will have to clean it up, but you better give me a bag b/c i don't want to have to walk home in the rain sans umbrella b/c one of your customers stole it.

Pendullum said...

I feel your pain...
Someone came onto my front porch and STOLE, STOLE my umbrella right from my porch...
It was my favourite...
And Elvis Presley blue umbrella.. It is unique, it was a gift...
and now it is gone...
So very sad and angry...

Los Angelista said...

This sort of thing has happened to me a few times so now I have no black umbrellas. I have a nice big purple one with a duck bill handle. But I still think someone would steal it if I left it in a bin. And probably if confronted, they'd try to pretend they'd jacked it by mistake.

How do we get back to a society where folks don't steal umbrellas?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Bad shit sounds pretty literate to me.

I think you're onto something about separateness breeding contempt, although common belief holds that familiarity does that.


Lovely poem. I especially like the part about "where the sun will never shine."

"Thieving mongrels" is also charming. Can I steal it (since theft is the new "in" thing?)


My next umbrella will be attached to my sleeve with a diaper pin like mittens on a toddler's snow suit.


Wow. A new low in human behavior. Who would have thought you'd have to electrify your porch steps? You could do a kind of Christmas light thing, only it would zap the uninvited and up to no good.

Did it come from Graceland?


Sadly, I suspect that umbrellas are the least of what people steal from each other.

Returning to such a time, if in fact it ever existed, would require respecting each other more than we seem to now, caring about each other's wellbeing, and losing the giant sense of entitlement which many of us sport so proudly.

Old Crone said...

This happened to me several times when I lived in SF. I feel your pain. Thanks for writing such a great blog, I really enjoy reading it, and it reminds me of home.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I guess it's a small sacrifice to live in such a beautiful city.

Thank you so much for the kind words, and for your visit.

seventh sister said...

I'll be lookoing for just the right one for you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


What kind of wildflowers do you like?

Angela said...

"Lotus blossom up your ass." OH MY GOD, It's my NEW FAVORITE SAYING! And yes, I'm going to shout it from the rooftops because it may be the most beautiful thing I've ever read! ;)

All this turning-the-other-cheek stuff sure has left my ass sore. :)

Then I stop and think
It is me who loses twice
Rat years sting deeply


Odat said...

Not lotus blossoms,
How bout umbrella instead
Would hurt a little more.


Anonymous said...

The only place where I still feel comfortable leaving my things unattended is at the skating rink during adult sessions.

Karma will burn their asses!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


"Rat years sting deeply" is a great line!

Heading for the rooftops with you.


I stand corrected. What was I thinking? Of course. Umbrella.

I knew I could count on you.


Do you ice skate or roller skate? Both are great fun.

Melanie said...

lovely poem. and if they weren't expensive, why didn't you buy one before walking home?

anyway. i agree with chani.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's a small grocery store. They don't sell umbrellas there; they just facilitate the theft of them.

Molly said...

Maybe you should write a thank you note to the umbrella thief and clip it to the bin next time you're in that store---thanking her, on behalf of all your readers, for inspiring such an hilarious post. You could attach a lotus blossom.....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You've given me a wonderful idea - attaching a note to the basket the next time it rains asking how she is enjoying the black umbrella she stole from me on February 24th.

But I can't even take it back if I see it there again because I can't be sure it's mine.

Rebecca said...

It is maddening when someone takes something that doesn't belong to them. Especially when their excuse is I didn't know it was yours...My response to that is always well, you knew it wasn't YOURS!! Karma will set it right.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I might have said something considerably ruder if I had seen it happen. But of course I didn't because she knew where I was when she took it.

I finally bought a new one the other day, pretty much guarantying months of sunshine.